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Cleveland Indians top prospects, #19: Ryan Merritt

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Your 2014 Bob Feller Award winner...

Rick Scuteri-USA TODAY Sports

Let's Go Tribe is putting together its own ranking of the top Indians prospects, with readers voting on each entry. Here are the previous entries in the series:

  1. Francisco Lindor
  2. Clint Frazier
  3. Bradley Zimmer
  4. Giovanny Urshela
  5. Francisco Mejia
  6. Tyler Naquin
  7. Bobby Bradley
  8. James Ramsey
  9. Justus Sheffield
  10. Erik Gonzalez
  11. Mike Papi
  12. Mitch Brown
  13. Jesus Aguilar
  14. Yu-Cheng Chang
  15. Carlos Moncrief
  16. Luis Lugo
  17. Tony Wolters
  18. Cody Anderson

The voting was a landslide this time. With a majority of voters deciding that it's finally time to do away with petty campaigning on empty promises and hand this thing out based on merit.

  • Shawn Morimando 6%
  • Ryan Merritt 56%
  • Grant Hockin 9%
  • Nellie Rodriguez 6%
  • Adam Plutko 6%
  • Eric Haase 6%
  • Dylan Baker 11%

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Ryan Merritt was the Tribe's 16th round pick in 2011. He spent the rest of that summer in rookie ball, then spent 2012 in the short-season New York-Penn League, throwing a total of 66 innings there. In 2013 Merritt was sent to the Low-A Midwest League, where he pitched well enough to post a 3.52 ERA, with good home run and walk rates. At the very end of that year he was promoted to High-A, which is where he spent all of 2014, which would become his best year to date.

Merritt came out of the gate strong last year, allowing only one earned run in his first four starts. He didn't allow more than 3 earned runs in a game until his 17th start of the season, in mid July. In August he walked only two batters in 32.0 innings, while striking out 24.

His final line for the season: A sparkly 2.58 ERA, with only 1.40 walks and 0.67 home runs allowed per 9 innings. He also held batters to a .213 average and posted a 0.95 WHIP. The .251 BABIP he allowed is unsustainably low, but avoid walks and keeping the ball in the park means that even with a .300 BABIP allowed, his performance would have been strong.

After the season Merritt was chosen as the winner of the 2014 Bob Feller Award, an honor given out annually by the Indians to the top pitcher in their farm system for that year. Baseball America named Merritt's changeup as the best in the Carolina League.

Merritt just turned 23, and he'll start out the 2015 season with Double-A Akron. Most likely he'll spend the entire season there. The jump to Double-A is often described as the most difficult move up in the minor leagues, so it will be interesting to see how Merritt handles it.

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Who do you think should be the #20 Indians prospect?

We're down to the final spot on the list. Feel free to mount a write-in campaign for your dad, who would surely enjoy the honor and let you borrow that money you're after.

Other Indians top prospect lists: